fail friday :: a visit from elsie marley

welcome to round two of fail friday!  fail friday is the showcase and celebration of failure…the funny, the ridiculous, the big and the small mistakes that makes us beautifully imperfect.

failure is unimportant.  it takes courage to make a fool of yourself–charlie chaplin

I am so excited to welcome the inimitable meg from elsie marley!  in addition to running the amazing and inspiring bi-annual kids clothes week challenge, meg is a fervent sewer, decorator, baker and mother.  her hip, spare style sense is matched only by her witty and honest voice.  she is truly unparalleled and not one to shy away from an elbows-on-the-kitchen-table type of conversation.  so much so that I think much of the blog world feels they are sat down right next to her.  indeed, a few of her posts motivated this whole failure series.   so, grab a mug of something hot and settle in because, here is meg!


Hello happy stitch readers! Meg from elsie marley here to show off my fabulous failures! You may know every spring and fall I host a sew-a-long called the Kids Clothes Week Challenge (or kcwc for short). It is a week of frantic sewing and while many beautiful things get made some pretty awful looking ones do too. The latest edition of kcwc went unbelievably smoothly for me, but there were still a few rough patches. May I present exhibit A and exhibit B:

double fail

Let’s start with A, shall we. The plan was to upcycle one of my old shirts using Rae’s Flashback Skinny Tee pattern. I screwed up on the very first step: I cut out two front pieces instead of a front and a back. No problem, I thought, one mistake I can roll with it–even though it is a pretty big one. I hatched a new plan with a redesign in mind and started to sew.

the pretty good

Looks pretty decent from the front, eh?

the ugly

Whoa! where did that crazy, ruffle-y piece of poo come from? Fail! To make the front piece into a back piece, I had to patch it. I thought hey, I’ll use the gray ribbing for the patch and all the edgings and then make some epaulettes thingies too so the whole thing looks like it was intentional. I sewed one patch on, too small. Ripped it out. I sewed the second patch on, a little bigger, but still too small. Ripped it out. Cut the patch out again, said screw it, I’m sure this one is big enough and I serged it.

the good and the ugly

It was a little wavy at this point, but nothing an iron couldn’t fix. I soldiered on: made the shoulder patch doo-dads, sewed the sleeves, then put together the whole shirt. The neckline was the last thing and wow! it took the back patch from a little bad to OMG there is an enormous, fat, dead, gray worm on your back! Of course my son loves it. The shirt is pretty much a failure, but had I not kept at it I would never had added the shoulder detail, which I am totally in love with. And a little back yoke could look cute too, if it’s less dead-wormy.

lapped tee fail

Sometimes you keep at it and good things happen, sometimes you keep at it and things go in the toilet. I started this shirt 2 years ago. It was for my oldest son, who was then 3. I tried to size up the 90 minute shirt pattern and I sized it all wrong. The lapped collar too overlapped (ha!) so the neck hole was very small (I remember him making dramatic choking noises when he tried it on). The shirt was short sleeve then and the sleeves were all kinds of wrong too. So it sat jammed in a corner, because the fabric is this lovely soft jersey (I used it for baby pjs too) and I couldn’t throw it away.

Now my youngest son is 3, so I unpicked the sleeves, cut new ones, tried to fix the collar, and then sewed the new long sleeves on. The collar is better, though a little big. The sleeves, on the other hand, are crazy janky now! One juts straight out to the side the other one is weirdly big. I think I need to stop trying to make this shirt work and pick it apart and start over. Sometimes a project can seem cursed: no matter what you do, every bit goes wrong. As my grandfather would say, “As you sew, so shall you rip.”

15 Comments on fail friday :: a visit from elsie marley

  1. Amanda
    November 9, 2012 at 5:52 pm (5 years ago)

    There is something so relieving to see that everyone has sewing disasters! I too had one during KCWC. I tried to resize Dana basic pants pattern to fit my 15 month old and boy did things go wrong! They ended up being unwearably small. As frustrating as it was at the time you know everyone that sews must have failures too! Thanks for sharing yours.

    • ahappystitch
      November 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm (5 years ago)

      hey amanda. hip, hip hooray for our failures…at least they bring us good company.

  2. Max
    November 9, 2012 at 10:24 pm (5 years ago)

    I had a similar fail with my 90 minute shirt too ahah. Except the neckline was too big and looked a bit… he looked dandy.

    Not going to lie I laughed out loud when I saw the back panel!

    Please tell me there will be a flickr pool? haha

    • ahappystitch
      November 10, 2012 at 8:48 am (5 years ago)

      flickr pool is a genius idea!

  3. Greer
    November 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm (5 years ago)

    This made me laugh out loud xx

  4. kristin
    November 9, 2012 at 10:45 pm (5 years ago)

    visiting from elsie marley – what a great series! we’ve ALL got fails, for sure. so awesome you’re encouraging honesty about them! might just have to post one of my own. 🙂

    and meg, i hope you try that epaulet shirt again, intentionally this time! it’s ALMOST great!

    • ahappystitch
      November 10, 2012 at 8:49 am (5 years ago)

      oh, please do! as my kids say, sharing is caring.

  5. mel
    November 10, 2012 at 12:08 am (5 years ago)

    This post is laugh out loud funny, just hilarious. And the picture of the worm at the back is too funny. I loved the honesty and I don’t feel quite so bad about my own batch of t-shirts that – dang it – just. refused. to. go. over. my. boy’s. head. Refreshing and somehow reassuring to know that fabulous blogger’s like you sometimes make mistakes like the rest of us.

  6. Brenda Melahn
    November 11, 2012 at 10:19 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you — I laughed so hard when I saw the back panel of that cute little shirt. Not because it was so funny, but because it is exactly something I would do and think “how the heck”? Bottom line – I had hit a snag due to some fails and now, I’m getting back on that horse … yep …. and try again!! Thanks again 🙂

    • ahappystitch
      November 19, 2012 at 9:51 am (5 years ago)

      Woot for getting back on the horse!

  7. Erin
    November 12, 2012 at 8:48 am (5 years ago)

    hehe… dead-wormy. love it. Refreshing to see someone admit their imperfections. Makes me not feel so bad! Fun series… and yes… there should be a Sewing Failure Flickr pool, no???


2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on fail friday :: a visit from elsie marley

  1. […] a hell of a lot funnier than perfectly perfect projects all the time. So go check out my post about my kcwc double fail! Posted in sewing […]

  2. […] of failed sewing projects, here’s one from a favorite blogger. It’s great to know other people fail. And to remember you’ll […]

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